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University of the Philippines College of Law

3-D

Topic Power of CIR to interpret

Case No. G.R. No. 148380 December 9, 2005

Case Name OCEANIC WIRELESS NETWORK, INC v. CIR

Ponente AZCUNA, J.

RELEVANT FACTS

• Petitioner received from the BIR deficiency tax assessments for the taxable year 1984 in the total amount of
₱8,644,998.71. Petitioner filed its protest against the tax assessments and requested a reconsideration or
cancellation of the same in a letter to the BIR Commissioner.
• Acting in behalf of the BIR Commissioner, then Chief of the BIR Accounts Receivable and Billing Division, Mr.
Severino B. Buot, reiterated the tax assessments while denying petitioner’s request for reinvestigation in a
letter 1 dated January 24, 1991. Said letter likewise requested petitioner to pay the total amount within ten
(10) days from receipt thereof, otherwise the case shall be referred to the Collection Enforcement Division of
the BIR National Office for the issuance of a warrant of distraint and levy without further notice.
• Upon petitioner’s failure to pay the subject tax assessments within the prescribed period, the Assistant
Commissioner for Collection, acting for the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, issued the corresponding
warrants of distraint and/or levy and garnishment. These were served on petitioner on October 10, 1991 and
October 17, 1991, respectively.
• On November 8, 1991, petitioner filed a Petition for Review with the CTA to contest the issuance of the
warrants to enforce the collection of the tax assessments.
• The CTA dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction, declaring that said petition was filed beyond the thirty
(30)-day period reckoned from the time when the demand letter of January 24, 1991 by the Chief of the BIR
Accounts Receivable and Billing Division was presumably received by petitioner.
- a mere demand letter sent to the taxpayer after his protest of the assessment notice can be
considered as the final decision of the CIR on the protes
- the finality of the denial of the protest by petitioner against the tax deficiency assessments was
bolstered by the subsequent issuance of the warrants of distraint and/or levy and garnishment to
enforce the collection of the deficiency taxes.
• Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration arguing that the demand letter of January 24, 1991 cannot be
considered as the final decision of the CIR on its protest because the same was signed by a mere subordinate
and not by the Commissioner himself. The motion was subsequently denied.
• Petitioner filed a Petition for Review with the CA contending that there was no final decision to speak of
because the Commissioner had yet to make a personal determination as regards the merits of petitioner’s
case. The Court of Appeals denied the petition.

ARGUMENTS OF PETITIONER

• Mirant's non-presentation of the various payors or withholding agents to verify the Certificates of CWT, the
registered books of accounts, and the audited financial statements for the various periods covered to
corroborate its other allegations, and its failure to offer other evidence to prove and corroborate the propriety
University of the Philippines College of Law
3-D
of its claim for refund and failure to establish the fact of remittance of the alleged withheld taxes by various
payors to the BIR, are all fatal to its claim

ISSUE AND RESOLUTION

ISSUE RESOLUTION
Whether or not a demand YES, the authority to make tax assessments may be delegated to
letter for tax deficiency subordinate officers. Said assessment has the same force and effect as
assessments issued and that issued by the Commissioner himself.
signed by a subordinate
officer who was acting in • A demand letter for payment of delinquent taxes may be considered a
behalf of the Commissioner decision on a disputed or protested assessment. The determination on
of Internal Revenue, is whether or not a demand letter is final is conditioned upon the language
deemed final and used or the tenor of the letter being sent to the taxpayer.
executory and subject to an - The CIR should indicate to the taxpayer in clear and unequivocal
appeal to the Court of Tax language whenever his action on an assessment questioned by a
Appeals. taxpayer constitutes his final determination on the disputed
assessment
- On the basis of his statement indubitably showing that the
Commissioner’s communicated action is his final decision on the
contested assessment, the aggrieved taxpayer would then be able
to take recourse to the tax court at the opportune time.
• With respect to the authority of the Chief of the Accounts Receivable and
Billing Division to act in behalf of the CIR,
GR: The CIR may delegate any power vested upon him by law to
Division Chiefs or to officials of higher rank.
Exc: He cannot delegate the following:
1. The power to recommend the promulgation of rules and
regulations by the Secretary of Finance;
2. The power to issue rulings of first impression or to reverse,
revoke or modify any existing ruling of the Bureau;
3. The power to compromise or abate any tax
deficiency: Provided, however, that assessments issued by
the Regional Offices involving basic deficiency taxes of five
hundred thousand pesos (P500,000) or less, and minor
criminal violations as may be determined by rules and
regulations to be promulgated by the Secretary of Finance,
upon the recommendation of the Commissioner,
discovered by regional and district officials, may be
compromised by a regional evaluation board which shall
be composed of the Regional Director as Chairman, the
Assistant Regional Director, heads of the Legal,
Assessment and Collection Divisions and the Revenue
District Officer having jurisdiction over the taxpayer, as
members; and
4. The power to assign or reassign internal revenue officers
to establishments where articles subject to excise tax are
produced or kept.
University of the Philippines College of Law
3-D
• Section 6 of the Code further provides that The tax or any deficiency tax
so assessed shall be paid upon notice and demand from the Commissioner
or from his duly authorized representative

Application to the case:


 The letter of demand dated January 24, 1991, unquestionably
constitutes the final action taken by the Bureau of Internal Revenue
on petitioner’s request for reconsideration when it reiterated the tax
deficiency assessments due from petitioner, and requested its
payment. Failure to do so would result in the "issuance of a warrant
of distraint and levy to enforce its collection without further notice.”
In addition, the letter contained a notation indicating that
petitioner’s request for reconsideration had been for lack of
supporting documents.
 The act of issuance of the demand letter by the Chief of the Accounts
Receivable and Billing Division does not fall under any of the
exceptions that have been mentioned as non-delegable. Thus, the
authority to make tax assessments may be delegated to subordinate
officers. Said assessment has the same force and effect as that issued
by the Commissioner himself, if not reviewed or revised by the latter
such as in this case.

RULING

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated October 31, 2000 and its Resolution
dated May 3, 2001 in CA-G.R. SP No. 35581 are hereby AFFIRMED. The petition is accordingly DENIED for lack of
merit. SO ORDERED.